Bloody crackdown in Bahrain

Protests
have been banned in Bahrain and the military has been ordered to tighten its
grip after the violent removal of anti-government demonstrators.

Three
people died and hundreds were hurt overnight as riot police broke up a protest
camp in the capital Manama.

The
unrest comes amid a wave of protest in the Middle East and North Africa.

Bahrain’s
demonstrators want wide-ranging political reforms and had been camped out since
Tuesday.

An
announcement on state television said the army had taken control of “key
parts” of Manama.

The
capital has been effectively shut down, with tanks, army patrols and military
checkpoints on key streets and helicopters deployed overhead.

Barbed
wire has been erected on roads leading to the main protest area, Pearl Square,
and the interior ministry warned people to stay off the streets.

An
interior ministry spokesman said: “The security forces have stressed that
they will take every strict measure and deterrent necessary to preserve
security and general order.”

Opposition
politicians and protesters have expressed outrage at the violence of the
crackdown.

A
leader of the leading minority Shia opposition, Abdul Jalil Khalil, said 18 MPs
were resigning in protest.

Ibrahim
Sharif, of Bahrain’s secular Waad party, said the protests would continue.

“We
are going to do what’s necessary to change this into a democratic country, even
if some of us lose our lives,” he said.

“We
want a proper, functioning, constitutional democracy.”

The
crackdown has caused unease in the West. Bahrain is a key UK and US ally and
hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

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Riot storm Pearl Square in Manama, Bahrain before dawn Thursday.
Photo: msnbc.com

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